I met Christopher D. Abbott a year ago on Authonomy, an authors’ website run by HarperCollins Publishing. We were both in a mystery writers’ critique group on the website’s forum. Since then, he has self-published his first novel and is enjoying success. I’d like to introduce you to Chris and his book, Sir Laurence Dies.
Summary of the Book
Sir Laurence was a decorated soldier in the Great War, and a hardnosed businessman. He was also a man of whom everyone was a little afraid. So when he boasted to Doctor Straay about his expert knowledge of crime fiction and requested that Straay spend a weekend at his country estate, the detective had reservations.
What began as an absorbing evening of drinks, conversation, and card games, soon turned into a horrific scene of murder. Fiction would soon give way to fact and in this game, the game of murder, Doctor Straay was the expert…
Excerpt from Sir Laurence Dies
‘What did you make of her?’ Drake asked.
‘She is a liar, but I don’t know if she deliberately lies.’
Drake was shocked. ‘I thought she was scatty, but I only got the sense that she wasn’t telling the truth when there was information that might hurt someone like Milly Gregson.’ Drake looked thoughtfully at him. ‘What did you pick up on?’
‘She habitually scratches herself when she is under stress. Her eyes, however, told me a little more. When she was visually remembering an image or a conversation, her eyes would move up and to the right. However, when she was visually constructing an image or conversation her eyes would move up and to the left.’
‘How does that work exactly?’
‘Let’s say your child asks you for a cake and you ask, “Well, what did your mother say?” As they reply, “Mum said… yes.” they look to the left. This would indicate a made up answer as their eyes are showing a constructed image or sound. Looking to the right would indicate a remembered voice or image, and thus would indicate the truth.’
‘You learn something new every day.’
Drake was quite impressed.
‘It’s not a precise science and shouldn’t be used in isolation.’
Drake smiled, ‘So you use a question you know would be answered honestly to get a baseline. I wondered why you asked her to confirm her name. Clever.’
‘It seemed a logical thing to do.’ Straay smiled. ‘More often than not, when you asked Lady Agatha a question, she constructed an answer rather than remembering one. It could be that her memory is fragmented by drink and that is why she was unable to remember.’
‘You think she’s an alcoholic?’ Drake asked. He hadn’t had any real time to observe this fact.
‘I think it’s very possible,’ Straay replied, thinking back to the smoking room. There he had observed she added to her drinks with a concealed flask. ‘It might explain the memory lapses and the nervous scratching and other little tics.’
‘Possibly the onset.’ Straay extinguished his cigarette. ‘At the very least, it could be some form of alcoholic dementia. You noticed that at one point she said, “I can’t stand brandy,” but later on she said, “I like brandy,” and so on.’
‘So what you’re saying is her testimony is basically unreliable?’ Drake sighed.
‘I’m afraid if she were in the court, we’d have a problem, yes.’ Straay pulled out another cigarette and lit it.
‘What about the popping sound and the shadows in the garden, you believe all that?’
‘She may have heard something,’ Straay shrugged, ‘She may have seen something.’
‘But nothing we can rely on.’ Drake was grim faced.
Straay shrugged. ‘No, but it’s something we can add to our investigation. At the very least, it’s new information.’
‘Fair point.’ Drake read over his notes. ‘Okay, moving on to Sir Laurence. Do you believe that bit about him being a bully?’
‘I’m not sure. There may be some truth in it, but I think again Lady Agatha’s hatred of Sir Laurence clouds her judgement.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well the legacy from her sister’s will for a start. Sir Laurence said she was quite resentful that he was charged with managing it for her.’
‘I see.’ Drake thought for a moment longer. Eventually he closed his book.
‘It’s a good motive for murder.’
‘Probably the best we’ve got so far,’ agreed Straay
About the Author
Christopher D. Abbott has a background in human behavioural studies. Having worked in IT, communications, safety and health, and sales, he has gained a good understanding about people and their behaviours. This has led to his interest in psychology. For many years, he has been an avid reader of crime fiction. Christopher has taken creative writing courses and from this, his ambition was always to publish a character driven crime story, in the style of the great Agatha Christie. Christopher loves quirky characters, such as Rodney David Wingfield’s Inspector “Jack” Frost, along with Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The Idea of Doctor Pieter Straay, his Dutch Criminal Psychologist, came about by integrating the qualities he admired best in the three previous characters.
Christopher grew up in England and moved to the United States in 2010. He currently resides in Connecticut. He loves to write and play music, which has been as much of a passion for him as writing is. He also enjoys cooking and is currently working on his next Doctor Straay novel.